From Tom Paine to Blogs and Beyond

In the article “From Tom Paine to Blogs and Beyond”, the author presented a review of the development of journalism and media revolution in U.S. history. The characteristic of vocal dissent set America as a free society, sustained by the freedom of speech. Based on this characteristic, the technological and political changes serve as the the contribution and transitions from the early free press to current personal journalism.

In US history, newspaper has dominated the production and dissemination of news. New technologies such as telegraph, PC, and the Internet has further enhanced the speed and volume of news spreading. And then the corporatization of journalism emerged. Broadcasting (radio, TV) serves as the key role in the transition to consolidation in newspaper industry. The centralization and corporate ownership of news networks have threatened free information choice. However, the power of personal technology (PC and the Internet), as well as the invention of WWW and browsers, enable individuals to broaden their personal choices, preventing people being controlled by the Big Media. Moreover, HTML makes individuals able to write on Web, instead of just reading from it. The browers and the relative ease of creating web pages lead to the accomplishment of personal journalism. Search engines and link directories further help distribute personal journalism Globally.

To examine the respective eras of media transformation, the printing press and broadcasting serve as one-to-many media, telephone as an one-to-one medium, personal journalism (e.g., Weblog) as the One-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many medium.

As a popular new medium tool, blog empowers individuals to share and report themselves to the world. The conversational mode of journalism through sharing blogs let people enlighten each other and do journalism together. Furthermore, in addition to exchanging personal opinions, bloggers and independently news sites also do a respectable job of scanning for and sorting news for people who want it. The editorial function enhances the breadth and depth of the reports on indiviual blogs.

The Information Technology attributes to mass customization, disintermediation (elimination of middlemen), and media convergence. At the end, it creates the global conversation among individuals around the world.

Concerning that personal journalism has developed so rapidly and keeps gaining popularity, mainstream press publications should seek ways to benefit themselves from the diverse sources from personal journalism. The resources that Big Media can throw at an investigation on journalism and the journalistic professionals enable Big Media to retain an advantage over open source journalism. Nonetheless, Big Media should take the advantage of the open source journalism, instead of suppress the development of it. The emerging popularity of blogs after 911 manifests the shortcoming of Big Media. Rather than watching the repeated video content and similar reports on mainstream media, people are more intersted at the content from various personal views on individual blogs. The mass media should use the personal journalism as an complement to its standardized ways of reporting and selecting report materials.

My initial experience with blogs is to read on my friends’ blog websites. At that time, I think blogs are primarily the online diaries for individuals to record their life, share their views, and express their feelings. Afterwards, I further find out that there is a social effect stimulating the use of blogs. That is, people tend to show themselves on the blog, so as to maintain their popularity among social contact and make more friends. The appearance and design of one’s own blog website are also important because they reveal the owner’s taste and style. From this perspective, personal blog website can represent the “status” and create the “value” of its owner. An individual’s status and value signified by his/her blog website can exist in both online community and real world.

by Erica Cheng.

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